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The Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives Museum's local history displays, collections and archives are located in a landmark building – the former Clay County State Bank, designed by noted Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss. Next door, the former Francis Hotel building, now called Francis Exhibition Hall, also holds displays that tell of story of Excelsior Springs, its people and its businesses. Both buildings date to the earliest years of the 20th century when Excelsior Springs was still in its Gilded Age heyday as a popular mineral water health resort. On view now through May 28 in the Francis Exhibition Hall is the state’s bicentennial exhibit, “Struggle for Statehood,” made possible by the Missouri Humanities Council.

Excelsior Springs (MO) Museum & Archives

Cloud, Sky, Window, Building

Interior view Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives

Property, Interior design, Architecture, Hall

The Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives is a private nonprofit established in 1967. The former bank building that is home to today’s local history museum was built in 1906 and expanded to its current footprint in 1919-1920. It is one of only about 35 still-existing structures created by noted Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss, known as a father of “curtain wall” construction that was the precursor to today's modern skyscrapers. Built in 1906 in the Italian Renaissance style with a classical temple front, the bank building’s key interior features include a barrel vault ceiling studded with 112 electrical lights, mahogany fixtures, wrought brass grating, tile floors, ornamental support columns, and a ten-ton round bank vault door. The 1919-1920 expansion features curtain wall construction in the bank of windows on the west side.

The former Francis Hotel was built circa 1919 on the grounds of the town’s first hotel, the Excelsior Hotel, which faced the original mineral spring and well pavilion, the Siloam. Now renamed the Francis Exhibition Hall, the brick building with a red tile mansard roof once housed hotel guests on its upper floor and retail space on the street level.

For more than 50 years, volunteers at the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives have collected and preserved items of historical significance to Excelsior Springs and nearby communities. Museum volunteers create four to six displays each year to share new stories from the town’s history with visitors who are also drawn to the nearby landmark Hall of Waters with “the world’s longest water bar” and The Elms hotel and spa, once frequented by the sports figures such as fighters Jack Dempsey and his rival Jess Willard, and Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, as well as prominent politicians such as President Harry Truman and reportedly, the gangster Al Capone.

Museum history, history of the former Clay County State Bank, and history of the former Francis Hotel: Accessed May 19, 2021.

Certificate of Incorporation dated Dec. 6, 1967, in files at the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives, 101 East Broadway, Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

“Clay County State Bank Will Observe Birthday Tomorrow,” Excelsior Springs (MO) Daily Standard, May 8, 1933, Volume 45 No. 109, Column 5.

Brian Burnes, “Stalking Louis Curtiss,” Kansas City Star “Style” section, Sept. 16, 1991, page 29. Accessed May 19, 2021 at

Robert L. Beardsley, “Curtiss Celebrates Regional Architect,” The Wichita [KS] Eagle , Nov. 10, 1991, page 28; accessed May 10, 2021 at

Cydney E. Millstein, architectural historian. “101 E. Broadway, Clay County State Bank; 1906 with additions/Louis S. Curtiss, architect," Excelsior Springs Hall of Waters Commercial East Historic District, U.S. Interior Department, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Section 7, page 3. Accessed May 19, 2021 at

Hall of Waters history accessed May 19, 2021 at accessed May 19, 2021.

"A Clientele Of Celebrity & Notoriety," Elms history accessed May 19, 2021 at

“Willard Is ‘Some Man,’” January 18, 1916, Excelsior Springs [MO] Daily Call, page 1 column 3. The 1915 world heavyweight boxing champion was followed in 1918 to Excelsior Springs by rival Jack Dempsey, who defeated him in the 1919 title bout. See "Jack Dempsey Will Fight For Red Cross Wednesday Night," May 20, 1918, Excelsior Springs [MO] Standard, page 1, column 6; and “Good Blow For Red Cross,” May 23, 1918, Excelsior Springs [MO] Standard, page 1, column 5. Digital files at the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives. Other Dempsey visits were chronicled in the local newspaper on April 30, 1919, and Nov. 14, 1922.

"May Come Here in 1911/Charles Comiskey of the Chicago White Sox Is Interested in Excelsior Springs," Excelsior Springs Daily Call, Nov. 30, 1909, page 1 column 5. The visits of Comiskey and his family, often accompanied by Ban Johnson, the American League president, and his wife, were chronicled in articles in the local newspapers in 1910 and in annual visits 1916-1919.

“President Spends Election Day in Spa,” Excelsior Springs [MO] Daily Standard, Nov. 3, 1948, page 1, columns 1-2; page 6, column 2. The “Spa” was the newspaper nickname for the city.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives files

Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives files